The John & Celia Memorial
A brief history ...
The John & Celia Stephens Memorial Tournament has been held annually since 1980, and was inaugurated in honour of John, who passed away unexpectedly on December 2, 1979, at the age of 54.
John, a prominent member of the SGCC, as well as the community at large, emigrated to Canada from England in 1965, with his wife, Celia, and their three children. Having first settled in Savona,B.C, they eventually made their way to Smithers in 1967, upon the completion of John’s training as a Health Inspector. They embraced their new home, and John was soon involved with not only the Smithers Golf Club, but the Royal Canadian Legion, The Lions Club, and The Forest Wardens, as well.
Back home, John grew up in a golfing family, and being an accomplished golfer himself, made it a point to go for a walk around the local golf course, upon his arrival in Smithers. Once he determined to become a member, John worked tirelessly to improve the course, often accompanied by his sons, Jim and Bill. He designed the greens and is credited with building the first grass green on hole No.6, no less over the objections of those who believed grass greens would never survive in Smithers. It took the unusual step of having both a grass green and a sand green on the same hole, until it was finally agreed that grass could, in fact, survive the northern climes.
John did more that just work on the course, he played; winning the Northern Open in 1969 and 1972, multiple Club Championships, and the Norman Kilpatrick Memorial. He also held the position of President, taught the Juniors and, if that wasn’t enough, held golf lessons during the winter months in a school gym.
Ever the gentleman, John believed in fair play. And though a renown figure in the community, was never one to draw attention to himself, or his many accomplishments. His was to encourage others and nurture his many friendships. He remained a quiet leader, who sought to encourage participation in the many things he happened to be involved with at the time. His legacy remains one of dedication and service to his community, and is deserving of our esteem.
Celia’s golfing career began after the move to Smithers. She worked at the Royal Bank, and for many years held the position of Treasurer at the golf course. She too was an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the community, and when she passed away on May 25, 1993, at the age of 65, the tournament was renamed to honour her memory alongside that of her husband. The trophy continues to be awarded by a member of the Stephen’s family. Celia Stephens began the tradition. It has since fallen to their son, Bill, and his sister, Sarah, to uphold it for the next generation.
The John & Celia Stephens Memorial truly is a rich chapter in the tradition we choose to honour at the Smithers Golf & Country Club.